Savan Devani of BioTrillion

Savan DevaniSavan Devani is the CEO & Founder of BioTrillion, a health technology company building an AI-platform called BioEngine4D to digitally detect developing diseases. Their current disease targets are in the neurology and dermatology areas and their BioEngine4D solution will be initially deployed for the Consumer market, via a front-end BioTrillion mobile App.

Savan is a trained Bioengineer and later spent the bulk of his career on the business side the Life Sciences industry as an Investment Banker at Citigroup and Deutsche Bank. Savan graduated with a M.S.E. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, with an emphasis in Business from Wharton and a B.S.E. in Bioengineering focused in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley.


BioTrillion graphic - Circular arrow graphic with the direction moving from Life to Data to BioEngine4d to DetectionHow did your company come to be?

After almost 20 years of academic and professional experience in the healthcare field, a deeply personal experience later in life gave me a new perspective into how much healthcare needed to change – my mother was abruptly diagnosed with stage 4b cancer. This compelled me to ask “where were all the signs?” and “isn't there a better way?” This led to me returning to my bioengineering roots and founding BioTrillion just over a year ago..

What product or service have you developed?

BioTrillion is developing a health technology platform, called BioEngine4D™, to digitally detect developing diseases earlier in the health continuum. It detects while developing, instead of diagnosing when developed.

Consumers can access our soon-to-be-released LIFEdata™ app, utilizing the multimodal sensors in existing smart devices like the smartphone and smartwatch, powered by our back-end AI-platform called BioEngine4D. Our initial focus is on diseases in neurology and dermatology.

What is your business model?

BioEngine4D is being developed for consumers and monetized via payor, pharma, provider, and adjacent revenue markets.

What impact do you envision achieving?

Our goal is to empower people with access to better healthcare, before they become patients, by shifting disease detection earlier in the healthcare continuum, from developed to developing.  Advances in technology have amplified our individual capabilities in many ways, and better caring for our own health should be no exception.  After all, no one can care more for your health than yourself, right?

Tell us about yourself and your co-founders.

I initially began my academic career obtaining BSE (UC Berkeley) and MSE (UPenn) degrees in Bioengineering and started my professional career as a Bioengineer at Life Technologies. However, I realized I was too much of a science nerd and needed to add more business experience to my skillset. So, I joined investment banking focused exclusively in the life sciences industry. I gained valuable experience there for longer than I ever imagined: 12+ years, promotions from Analyst through Managing Director, ~40 financing, IPO, and M&A deals totaling $35B+ in deal value, and the privilege of working with 100s of clients across the spectrum of drug, diagnostic, and device technologies. Life then brought me full-circle back to my bioengineering roots after a deeply personal and problematic healthcare experience and I founded BioTrillion to help solve this problem.

Since then, we’ve been assembling a team with a rare combination of expertise in the fields of life, data, and computer sciences, across business and engineering. As we move into the future, I believe innovation is going to increasingly require a multi-disciplinary way of thinking – and for HealthTech, an understanding of both the synergies and the boundaries at the intersection of biology and technology domains.

As a participant of the UC Entrepreneur Pitch Competition, what traction have you received?

In BioTrillion’s first year, we were fortunate to have been selected for honors and PR by multiple coveted competitions and industry presentation opportunities. More info about this can be found on our website.

However, more important than accolades, is actually making progress toward achieving our vision of making a bold impact in healthcare. To that end, we’ve raised our initial financing round, completed our prototype, and intend to reach the market later this year.

Describe your journey as a UC entrepreneur.

I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur ever since I was a junior majoring in bioengineering at UC Berkeley.  At the time, I imagined a world where the life and computational sciences would meet.  It took many years for technology to catch up to the point where, today, my original vision is now possible.  Being an entrepreneur is like running as fast as you can in the dark with occasional glimpses of light that tell you you’re moving in the right direction.

What resources within the UC system have been beneficial to you and why?

The Berkeley School of Engineering. It makes you more than an engineer: it trains you how to think and solve problems, which is a life-long skill. The UC Office of the President- particularly its Global Head of Strategic Partnerships, Victoria Slivkoff.

Since you’ve been selected by ChinaSF for a sponsored roadshow to China, what do you hope to gain from this opportunity?

When I received the call that we were chosen as one of a few startups to participate in a fully sponsored China roadshow by a joint venture between the China and San Francisco governments, I was intrigued. Given the HealthTech solution we are developing is inherently digital in nature, and thus globally distributable at-scale, when a cross-border global opportunity presents itself, it’s wise to be opportunistic!

What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs?

You need to have an undeterred degree of confidence, coupled with a relentless work ethic, relevant experience, shrewd instincts, and a deep fulfillment from what you’re dedicating yourself to.  I believe this recipe usually leads to positive outcomes. 

What other pitch competitions and events have you attended? Where else have you applied?

A couple of the notable ones we’ve been selected out of hundreds of applicants include the Startup Spotlight Presentation by HLTH, a leading HealthTech conference and making it to the final 4 in the "Most Fundable Series-A Startup" competition at HIMSS, the Health Technology industry’s largest global conference.

Have you made any new key partners as a result of participating in these competitions/events?

We are in discussions with some promising potential partners that I’ve known for years and whom we’ve met at these conferences and competitions.

What mentor advice have you received and how has that helped?

Experience has been the best mentor. The best piece of advice is to trust your gut.

How did you get initial traction for your company?

“Traction” starts on Day 1 – since then the opportunities and workload have been 24/7.

In your opinion, what makes you more valuable than your competitors?

Our approach flips the conventional life sciences innovation paradigm: we believe there is greater synergy in being “data first, disease second” rather than “disease first, data second.” This approach is now possible because a clinical trial and measurement tool sit in everyone’s pocket. This allows us to measure a breadth of novel phenotypic features far more scalable than molecular biomarkers.

What problem(s) are you tackling?

We spend less than 1% of our time in a medical setting and expect the medical data generated there to lead to enhanced outcomes. As a result, a massive amount of health information is not being adequately connected to our healthcare. For centuries, healthcare has been focused on the post-symptomatic intervention phase, including diagnosis and treatment in a medical setting once diseases are developed, largely responsible for the ballooning multi-trillion-dollar global economic healthcare burden.

BioTrillion focuses on the life setting, which provides access to something the medical setting does not: that other 99% observable window when developing diseases are more statistically likely to be expressed.

We are addressing the massive economic, quality of life, and longevity problem from late diagnoses by shifting disease detection into the Life setting, to catalyze earlier clinically confirmed diagnoses in the Medical setting.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced thus far and how have you overcome these challenges?

The same as other startups with a bold, moonshot goal: achieving something unprecedented with a seemingly infinite amount of work and finite resources. Our journey continues and time will be the ultimate arbiter.

What challenges have you faced in this industry?

Some strongly understand our vision, and others don’t. But, over the past year, more are starting to “see” it. The Biology and Technology domains are complicated on their own – and together even more! Our educational system needs to foster a more multi-disciplinary training across the horizontal breadth of sciences.

How has the market responded thus far?

Consumer Healthcare is undergoing a secular shift. Early on, I premised the company on the core thesis that the next evolution in consumer health will evolve from Wellness to Detection. Time will ultimately tell, but it does not hurt to have major validating tailwinds from the likes of Apple and Verily proving out our thesis.

Where are you with funding and patents?

In our first year, we closed our seed round with over $1 million in funding and have made six filings with the USPTO.

What are the investment and achievement highlights so far?

I was the first investor for BioTrillion. We’ve been fortunate to receive investments from ~15 angels and funds, including some well-known names.

A few other parts of our Year 1 journey include:

  • Assembled and growing a team with a rare combination of life, data, and computer sciences backgrounds, across business and engineering.
  • Invited by NVIDIA into their Inception Program to accelerate BioEngine4D with GPU-powered AI technology.
  • Honors and PR by multiple coveted competitions and industry presentation opportunities.
  • Completed our "Diseases-Expressions-Devices" analytic models that innovatively optimize key targets: across 500+ diseases in the human physiology spectrum based on their mechanisms of expression; and 100+ novel and pathophysiologic-rooted LIFEdata generated phenotypic measures with the best statistical likeliness to be "biomarkable" to key diseases.
  • Made several IP filings with the USPTO and developed the prototype of our front-end, consumer-facing part of our health technology platform — the LIFEdata app. iOS beta to be released in 2H’2019.